Arlene Page and Claire

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Arlene Page and Claire won the Grand Prix Special at the WEF Dressage Classic CDI*** held March 14-17 in Wellington, Florida. The 10-year-old, 17-hand, bay Holsteiner mare (Cassini x Umaiaca) is a former jumper who had been showing dressage at the German ‘M’ level only a year before Page bought her in 1999. Since then, Page and Claire have trained with Conrad Schumacher and Klaus Balkenhol. Page, 45, feels she has found "the one" in Claire and is working towards making the U.S. team for the 2004 Olympics. The Wellington CDI was the first show for the duo in the 2002 season.

 

"I was really proud of her. She continues to be incredibly rewarding," said Page. "She can take pressure and react in a good way. By pressure, I mean asking for a little more and a little more, and she delivers. She handles that kind of thing very well. She is absolutely right on the same page."

Page had been on a horse-shopping mission for over a year before she found Claire at Thomas von Samson’s barn outside of Hamburg, Germany. "There was no question. This was the one to buy," she said. Claire had natural ability for flying changes and pirouettes.


 


 

Page purchased the mare in March and trained with Schumacher from April to October. In September, Page learned that she and her husband Dave were going to be parents. She returned home to Hamilton, Massachusetts, and didn’t ride for three months. She had a young rider, Beth Adams, work the horse while she served as eyes on the ground. With an obstetrician’s approval, she did ride again while pregnant up until about three months before the birth of her daughter, Charlotte, in May. She didn’t send Claire to a professional during her pregnancy because, "If I sent her away I had a feeling she wouldn’t be my horse. I wanted to go do the work myself, on the ground or in hand. Perhaps Claire did not advance as much during those months, but I was comfortable with Beth riding. She has a beautiful seat and runs a wonderful stable."

 

In January 2001, the Page family moved to Wellington, Florida. That season she showed Claire in Open Prix St. Georges and Intermediaire I and qualified for the I-1 Championship at Gladstone. "She was fantastic at Gladstone. We earned a USET/USOC grant to go abroad." Page had been planning to return to Schumacher, but as part of the U.S. squad, she went to U.S. Dressage Team Coach Klaus Balkenhol instead. After three months, the pair made their debut at Grand Prix, only because Balkenhol could not get them into Prix St. Georges or I-I classes at the two CDIs they wanted to compete at, Rotterdam and Weisbaden. "I trust my horse 100% in the arena," said Page. "She is 100% class. She is a good competitor. Whatever we have at home, it’s good at the show." The pair placed 12th at Rotterdam with 64% and qualified for the Special where they placed 7th. At Weisbaden, they scored 64% in the Grand Prix and 66% in the Special for 10th. "It was against all the big guns," said Page. "It was a huge show with thousands of spectators. She handled it beautifully. It was psychologically good for both of us." Not only was it Claire’s Grand Prix debut, but it was Page’s first time competing at Grand Prix in Europe.

Back in the U.S., Page started her 2002 season at Clarcona Park in Orlando. They scored 68% in the Grand Prix and 69% in the Special. Then Claire was sidelined with an injury. "We took her out of show mode until this last show in Wellington. It was a qualifier and a CDI. Mentally for her it was not a problem. In the Grand Prix, we used a relaxed approach, half-power, and had a couple of mistakes," said Page of their 7th place finish. But the following day, they came back to the ring to win the Special, scoring 66.120% from the panel of ‘O’ judges.

"Last year and this year Oded Shimoni was a tremendous help. He is relentless in his theory that the horse should relax and understand and be free. He’s right," said Page. "I’m finding that the best feeling is ‘less is more’. The more I say ‘you do your thing’, for example in the pirouette, she proves again and again that she can, without my supporting and interfering. I’m a take charge person, so that’s different for me, for sure. But that communication between us gets better."

Page’s immediate goal is to qualify for Gladstone and do well enough to place in the top six so that she can earn another grant to train in Germany and show another season. "The judges need to know you can do it consistently."

Page has been a professional three-day event trainer and for the past 10 years, exclusively a dressage trainer. She has "a ton of friends" she has helped train and now that "the right horse came into my life, I have the support and enthusiasm of the dressage community." She also credits her home team with helping her achieve success – her husband Dave, who is "a saint and totally supportive" and her groom, Craig Bernstein, who looked her up in Germany and asked for a job. "He’s family now."

Does she feel she can make the team for Athens 2004? "Totally! Absolutely!" she said. "Claire will be 12 years old. She will have been a Grand Prix horse for three years. There is no reason she couldn’t be an anchor on the team if I do my job right. She’s ready, and so am I."



 

Back in the U.S., Page started her 2002 season at Clarcona Park in Orlando. They scored 68% in the Grand Prix and 69% in the Special. Then Claire was sidelined with an injury. "We took her out of show mode until this last show in Wellington. It was a qualifier and a CDI. Mentally for her it was not a problem. In the Grand Prix, we used a relaxed approach, half-power, and had a couple of mistakes," said Page of their 7th place finish. But the following day, they came back to the ring to win the Special, scoring 66.120% from the panel of ‘O’ judges.

"Last year and this year Oded Shimoni was a tremendous help. He is relentless in his theory that the horse should relax and understand and be free. He’s right," said Page. "I’m finding that the best feeling is ‘less is more’. The more I say ‘you do your thing’, for example in the pirouette, she proves again and again that she can, without my supporting and interfering. I’m a take charge person, so that’s different for me, for sure. But that communication between us gets better."

Page’s immediate goal is to qualify for Gladstone and do well enough to place in the top six so that she can earn another grant to train in Germany and show another season. "The judges need to know you can do it consistently."

Page has been a professional three-day event trainer and for the past 10 years, exclusively a dressage trainer. She has "a ton of friends" she has helped train and now that "the right horse came into my life, I have the support and enthusiasm of the dressage community." She also credits her home team with helping her achieve success – her husband Dave, who is "a saint and totally supportive" and her groom, Craig Bernstein, who looked her up in Germany and asked for a job. "He’s family now."

Does she feel she can make the team for Athens 2004? "Totally! Absolutely!" she said. "Claire will be 12 years old. She will have been a Grand Prix horse for three years. There is no reason she couldn’t be an anchor on the team if I do my job right. She’s ready, and so am I."

 

 




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